What a generic title for an appealingly quirky love story adapted from Laura Zigman’s novel Animal Husbandry. Did the studio think that title conjured up farm creatures going at it instead of sexy New York singles? The good news is that, except for slapping a happy face on the novel’s rueful ending, the film is a distinct pleasure.shley Judd shines like gold dust as Jane Goodale, a talent booker for a TV gab show, hosted by Diane Roberts (a terrific Ellen Barkin). Jane falls for the show’s new producer, Ray Brown (Greg Kinnear in the sleaze mode he plays so well — see Nurse Betty). Ray woos Jane hard, only to dump her when she gives up her apartment to move in with him — no explanation. Jane has one. Like an anthropologist without portfolio (she’s too emotionally bruised to be objective), Jane devises an old-cow/new-cow theory about how a stud bull never returns to the same cow for second helpings. (See, that Animal Husbandry title does make sense.) Her scrutiny of male behavior — especially the mating habits of office horn-dog Eddie Alden (Hugh Jackman) — convinces Jane her theory applies to humans. She even rents a small room in Eddie’s loft to watch the stud in action, keeping a journal that becomes a sensation when her magazine-editor friend (a perky Marisa Tomei) publishes it under a pseudonym.
That’s a lot of setup for a movie that is mostly moonshine. But the details count. Tony Goldwyn, working from a wry script by Elizabeth Chandler, builds on the flair he showed for shifting relationships in his 1999 directorial debut, A Walk on the Moon. The actors respond with lovely nuances. Jackman, Wolverine in X-Men, is funny and touching in a role he rescues from macho caricature. His scenes with the dazzling Judd have a poignancy that soars above the chick-flick herd into the realm of sweet magic.